A much-maligned generation strikes back with its own magazines

August 12, 1993|By Georgea Kovanis | Georgea Kovanis,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Eric Liu, conscientious twentysomething, was reading a Washington newspaper when he came across yet another story slamming his generation.

Loser, it virtually screamed.

And that was it. Mr. Liu decided he'd had enough of the stereotypes. He wasn't undirected or misguided or devoid of any sense of fun. He wasn't a slacker, either. "There was no one answering back," he says. "No one from my generation was telling the mainstream press 'This isn't right. It's inaccurate. It's not fair.' "

So, on a gamble, he withdrew his post-college life savings -- $2,000 -- and with the help of some writer friends started his own magazine to make things right.

The Next Progressive is humbly low-budget -- no glossy paper; no photos; contributors aren't paid. But it's ambitious, available at bookstores and cafes in Washington, D.C., where Mr. Liu lives, and by subscription elsewhere. And it's one of a growing number of publications written by and expressly for post-baby boomers, baby busters, twentysomethings, Generation Xers or whatever you want to call people between the ages of 18 and 30.

They're an ignored generation's latest attempt to be heard.

"I'm not among those twentysomethings who just have a reflexive bashing action against baby boomers," says Mr. Liu, who is 24 and works as a speech writer for the State Department. But, he explains, "the mainstream media is dominated by baby boomers. A lot of the articles we see reflect that perspective. When Newsweek does a cover on menopause, or when they do a cover on 'Oh my God, I'm turning 50' . . .

"They don't listen enough to the voices of young people."

And says Dave Palomares, creative director of Pure magazine, a Chicago-based post-boomer mag, who first encountered the slacker label when he was working as a college intern: "An article on the do-nothing generation came out. As I was the young intern at that time, people were coming up to me and saying, 'Tell me, are you the lazy good-for-nothing?' I said 'No. Here I am doing internships. I'm doing something to make myself marketable when I graduate.' "

A generation ago, baby boomers started their own alternative press to reject the mainstream. For them, being part of a newsweekly or a mainstream newspaper meant turning the page on their alternative movement, says Neil Alperstein, a popular-culture professor at Loyola College in Baltimore.

The baby boomers were rejecters.

Post-baby boomers feel differently.

"We've been rejected," says David Dalton, who founded Ohio-based Page One magazine. "Our concerns haven't been taken seriously."

So they are writing. And what are the post-boomers saying?

* In the Next Progressive: "The 20s are supposed to be a time of widening horizons, of bright possibilities. Instead, America seems to have entered an era of limits -- or at least convinced itself of that."

* In a recent edition of Page One, a glossy magazine published in Hudson, Ohio: Clinton's economic stimulus package is a waste. "The only certainty is that our generation will be saddled with . . . debt."

* In Diversity and Division, published in Washington and, for the most part, dedicated to exploring issues of race and ethnicity: "America almost reached nirvana in the late 1960s. Young people were principled and idealistic. They ended the war in Vietnam, fought the battle for civil rights, joined the Peace Corps to save the world, and liberated American society from its oppressive provincialism. . . .

"To those of us in the post-Baby Boom Generation, this story line is familiar. It's also a lie."

Where you can read all about it

A growing number of magazines have been founded by and for post-baby boomers, people ages 18 to 30. Here's how to get them:

* Page One: Subscriptions cost $15 a year, $22 for two years. You can order by phone, (216) 655-9856, weekdays. Address is Page One, Monticello Publishing, 118 W. Streetsboro Road, Suite 129, Hudson, Ohio 44236.

* Diversity & Division: Available by mail for $13 a year. For information, call (800) 225-2862, weekdays.

* Pure Magazine: Available through the mail for $2 an issue. Write P.O. Box 25665, Chicago 60625. Or call (312) 549-6550, weekdays.

* The Next Progressive: It's available in Washington. It's also available by subscription for $20 a year. Mail checks to the Next Progressive, P.O. Box 18713, Washington 20036. Or call (202) 828-3059, weekdays.

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